Dravuni

Na yacaqu ‘o Ema Rosemary Vasemaca Tavola.  Na tamaqu ‘o Kaliopate Tavola.  Na tinaqu ‘o Helen Goodwill Tavola mai Palmerston North, Niu Siladi.  Na noqu koro ‘o Dravuni, mai na tikina ‘o Ono, na yasana ‘o Kadavu. Na noqu Yavusa ‘o Natusara. Na noqu Mataqali ‘o Navusalevu. Na noqu i tokatoka ‘o Samualevu se ‘o Naisaumualevu. Na noqu i Cavuti ‘o Natusara, vua na Gone Turaga na Ramalo, na Tunidaunibokola. Na yaca ni noqu Vu ‘o Ravuravu.  Na nona waqawaqa na dadakulaci. Na yaca ni noqu Kalou-vu ‘o Tuni.  Na marama watina ‘o Rokowati, se ‘o Bulou. 

Na kau se vunikau ni noqu i Cavuti  oya na vesi. Na manumanu ni noqu i Cavuti oya na secala. Na ika ni noqu i Cavuti oya na vonu. Na noqu vakacaucau ni valu oya ‘Nuku yara ni siga’.

 

I place myself in a geographical, political, cultural and ancestral context. Like the exact opposite of displacement, these roots are firmly embedded. Through my father, I am inextricably connected to my vanua, my land, my people, my air, seas, rivers, non-living and all living things, spirits, religion, history and kinship to my clan. (Baba, Tupeni ‘The way the world should be: Vanua and Taukei’ in Speight of Violence Reed Publishers, Auckland, 2005)

 

In a Fijian context, my social place is within my family, my extended family, the clan, our village, district and province, in relation to other Fijians. Where there is an acknowledgment of the individual, it comes back to what the individual can bring to the collective, “no one is clan-less. The clan is their comfort zone. A person is protected within the group, but is expected as well to be responsible for the group’s survival,” Fijian politician and academic Tupeni Baba writes, “The individual takes responsibility for the group, is concerned about the reputation of the group and gains a lot of support and pride from belonging to the clan-based group and vice-versa.”

 

In December 2006, I returned to Dravuni for the first time in 16 years.

 

Leaving Dravuni on the Katalina

Natavasara, our family house

Natavasara is the house that Tutu Maciu built. It replaced the house, Levuka, which was next door, where my father and Tata Levu (Simione Bula) were born and raised.

My father attended Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand, where he met my mother, Helen Pratt.

My father went on to work for Fiji Sugar Marketing in London, and for the Fiji High Commission in Brussels, Belgium. The photos at Natavasara are records of these movements.

Bibles at Natavasara.

Natavasara is next door to Dravuni Methodist Church, where recently, a large boulder fell from the nearby hill and smashed into the corner of the church.

Church can be thirsty work.

Natavasara is also close to the newly opened Dravuni Village Library.

Pandanus is grown plentifully on the island of Dravuni. It is harvested, and dried in the sun, to produce mats and other woven things.

On New Years Eve, the village lali are available to anyone to beat, the sound resonates throughout the island.

Natavasara hosted 16 members and three generations of my extended family for the 2006/2007 New Years period.

My sister Mereia, with our cousin Maciu’s daughter, Mereia.

Mereia lailai and Nei Ema.

The resting place of Tutu Maciu’s second wife, Bubu Mere, buried near Natavasara.

Whilst most of our extended family is based in Vatuwaqa, Wailoku, Rakiraki and Auckland, my cousin Vuate Taletawa and his partner Ili McGoon, live at Natavasara full-time, keeping the home fires burning.

I like Vuate’s tattoos.

What Fiji is most famous for, apart from Military coups and rugby, is the beach. Dravuni’s waters are transluscent and the sand is silky soft. Recently an underwater volcano erupted near Tonga and millions of pieces of pumice have washed up all around the island. Many hours were spent gazing at the Pacific Ocean…

 

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